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The Daily Tar Heel

Searching for syllabi: Fayetteville State’s posting of course syllabi is a model of transparency for the whole system

We might like to think that UNC-Chapel Hill is the best in the UNC system, but in course content information, Fayetteville State University has us beat big time. There, instructors in each department are required to post course syllabi online long before registration.

According to the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, Fayetteville State is the only state school in North Carolina with a mandatory policy.

UNC-Chapel Hill should be more transparent about course content. The short class descriptions that show up in the undergraduate bulletin are not enough to give students the information they need to make a good decision about what classes to take.

Short course descriptions simply can’t do a professor — and his or her interpretation of the material — justice. Different professors, teaching the same class, can emphasize different things and offer completely different learning experiences.

Contrast the experience of searching the Undergraduate Bulletin with what happens when students land on Fayeteville State’s departmental websites. There is a conspicuous link labeled “Syllabi,” where student can see PDF files of every syllabus in that department.

Even better would be to copy Texas in this regard, where the state legislature mandated that all state institutions of higher education post syllabi online.

If students here could see syllabi before registration, they would be more likely to find classes that are a good fit, and less likely to go through the hassle of dropping and adding during the first few weeks of the semester.

The issue has financial considerations as well as academic. Textbooks are expensive, and a little advance notice would be much appreciated, especially since many professors take their time listing required texts with Student Stores.

Students need to know if they will be expected to purchase six first edition text books. It would be better to find out before you register for a class that you can’t afford to take it.

The University needs to give students better access to this information. Professors have syllabi already, and we should be able to see them sooner.

If we could view syllabi before registration, we could make better and more informed academic and financial decisions.

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